Five takeaways from Fox's 'The Resident,' the latest Atlanta-based drama debuting January 21

Posted Wednesday, January 17, 2018 by RODNEY HO/ on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Medical dramas can still work. Just ask ABC, which has the biggest new hit of the broadcast season with "The Good Doctor." "Grey's Anatomy," in the meantime, is in its 14th season.

Now Fox is hoping its latest effort "The Resident," set and shot in Atlanta, will capture similar magic, a genre it mined well for eight years with "House" from 2004 to 2012. It debuts after Sunday's Eagles/Vikings NFC Championship game.

Like John Carter on "ER" and Meredith Grey on "Grey's Anatomy," Dr. Devon Pravesh (Manish Dayal) opens "The Resident" on his first day at the hospital and quickly faces life-threatening challenges and difficult characters.

As a first-year resident, Dr. Pravesh is assigned to work under blunt, cocky but highly effective internist Dr. Conrad Hawkins (Matt Czuchry of "The Good Wife" fame). Dr. Hawkins, in the meantime, is trying to get back together with nurse Nicolette (Emily VanCamp from "Revenge") and spars with lead surgeon Dr. Soloman Bell (veteran actor Bruce Greenwood).

Amy Holden Jones, the co-creator and executive producer who wrote "Mystic Pizza" and "Beethoven," said she wanted to highlight how hospitals juggle ethics and profits and often lack accountability. When a surgeon kills a patient in the very first scene of the pilot, he deflects his own blame quickly and the rest of the staff complies with a new excuse. Nobody, she said, will ever know what really happened.

Jones said episode five will show a surgeon juggling five simultaneous surgeries, a time-saving device where residents handle the bulk of the work. It's a situation that could backfire if something goes horribly wrong.

Scarily, many of the story ideas come from doctors themselves who provide them anecdotes that have actually happened.

Here are five notable takeaways from the first two episodes:

1- So is he "House" or is he McDreamy? Dr. Hawkins can turn on the charm when he needs to and he is beloved by many of his patients. But he has a sizable ego and tells his first-year resident Dr. Devon Pravesh (Manish Dayal) to throw all the rules out of the window and do everything he says. Later, he is kinder, telling Dr. Pravesh, "What they don't teach us in medical school is there are so many ways to do harm." He's also the type of hot dude who will get down with the prettiest nurse in the department and reveal a tattoo on his back that says "Death before Dishonor." There is a "Grey's Anatomy" reference at one point when Dr. Hawkins reads out loud a customer review about Dr. Bell: "McDreamy is real."

THE RESIDENT: L-R: Matt Czuchry and Manish Dayal in the "Comrades in Arms" episode of THE RESIDENT airing Monday, Jan. 29 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2017 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Guy D'Alema/FOX

2- Bad guy alert: Dr. "Shaky Hands" Bell is the aging chief surgeon who keeps killing patients and covering it up. Many on the staff know his flaws but keep it quiet. Of course, Dr. Hawkins sees right through him and calls him out when he takes risky moves to make himself look good. "Is your pride really greater than the life of a patient?" he asks Dr. Bell. But Dr. Bell isn't evil per se, just calculating enough to ensure the hospital makes money and his image remains pristine. "His own feelings about the job and his own hubris have become far more important than the outcome of his patients," Jones said. She added that we will find out before the season ends what his medical issue is.

THE RESIDENT: L-R: Bruce Greenwood and Matt Czuchry in the "Independence Day" time period premiere episode of THE RESIDENT airing Monday, Jan. 22 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX ©2017 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Guy D'Alema/FOX

3- Being in Atlanta is purely incidental: While shows like FX's "Atlanta" and Starz' recently cancelled "Survivor's Remorse" made a concerted effort to splice the city into the story lines, "The Resident" didn't really incorporate Atlanta into the show to any real degree the first two episodes. The fictional hospital does have an Atlanta-ish name: Chastain Park Memorial Hospital. The exteriors and some interiors are the High Museum in Midtown, nowhere near the actual Chastain Park neighborhood. Interestingly, the last medical drama Fox aired - "Red Band Society" in 2014-15 - also used the High Museum for parts of its hospital. Location folks clearly find the building visually irresistible. They also turned a Conyers bar into a Midtown barbecue place. Jones - who has no direct Atlanta ties herself though she grew up in Florida - said the show was originally set in Boston, which has a reputation for great hospitals, but she decided to just keep it Atlanta since it's shooting here.

Courtesy of Josh Hallett from Winter Haven/ FL on Wikipedia
The fictional exterior of the hospital on Fox's "The Resident."

4. Best doctor in the house actually has the worst bedside manner: This seems like a trope but Nigerian resident Mina Okafor (Shaunette Renée Wilson) is all business both to patients and fellow doctors. "These are superficial wounds," she tells another surgeon when assigned to remove buckshot from a patient's buttocks. "You don’t need a surgeon. Any fool can do this." And she walks away. Jones, the creator, considers her the "Spock" of the show, a woman who thinks with rationality over emotion. She also believes Wilson might end up being the break-out star, based on early test screenings.

5. Nosy nurse: Twice in the first two episodes Nurse Nicolette walks in on Dr. Hawkins doing something he technically shouldn't be doing. Jones considers Nicolette the "conscience" of the hospital, someone who accepts but doesn't particularly like the way Hawkins bends or breaks rules to get what he wants.

THE RESIDENT: L-R: Shaunette RenŽe Wilson and Emily VanCamp in the "Independence Day" time period premiere episode of THE RESIDENT airing Monday, Jan. 22 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX ©2017 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Guy D'Alema/FOX


"The Resident" debuts after the NFC Championship Game on Sunday, January 21 but will air regularly Mondays at 9 p.m. on Fox

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.